MIAMI (WSVN) - A man and a woman have been killed after they were struck while riding bicycles on the Rickenbacker Causeway in Miami, leading officers to temporarily shut down all lanes and detain a driver for questioning.
Two families are mourning the deaths of a couple, who have been identified as 49-year-old Yaudys Vera, who leaves behind two teens and 46-year-old Ogniana Reyes, who leaves behind one teen.
Family members told 7News the couple had gone to the beach and were on their way back to their car when someone hit them.
City of Miami Police and Fire Rescue units responded to the scene of the crash near the toll plaza, just before 5 p.m., Sunday.
“The driver remained on the scene,” said Miami Police officer Michael Vega. “He cooperated with us, and this case is still open and ongoing, but he was given several citations on scene. It’s a tragic accident. We just need to be aware of our surroundings and be more attentive of bicyclists on the road.”
Video shared on social media by Only in Dade captured the aftermath of the crash.
“That SUV hit them really hard. Broken windshield, two bicycles in pieces,” said witness Ramon Figuero.
The footage captured mangled wheels near a pair of sunglasses, a shoe and a baseball cap belonging to one of the victims.
Onlookers said they were saddened to hear about the fatal crash.
“This is tragic, let me tell you, the saddest thing I’ve seen in my life,” said a man.
Investigators said the victims were struck and killed on impact as they neared the ramp toward Key Biscayne.
“I drive this road every morning — 5:30 to 6 o’clock, 6:30 in the morning — and you see out here everybody riding their bikes in the morning, and [drivers] got to respect it,” said Figuero. “Everybody respects their lanes, but this, that’s tragedy right there.”
The crash caused massive traffic delays. Officers shut down all lanes but later opened a northbound lane for drivers heading south.
Drivers were stunned to learn what led to the holdup.
“You see bicyclists every day, and you hope they stay safe, but unfortunately, you also see cars going really fast up and down the bridge,” said witness Gabriel Meneses.
Police detained and questioned the driver of the SUV involved in the crash.
Hours later, 7News cameras captured the SUV on the flatbed of a tow truck. There was damage to the front of the vehicle, and the windshield was shattered.
Meanwhile, passers-by reflected on the impact the crash will have on the victims’ families.
“It’s shocking, it’s unexpected. You hear [about] accidents on Rickenbacker but nothing like this,” said Meneses.
The horrific crash came just a few days before an annual bike ride to remember cyclists killed on South Florida roadways.
“I was struck in 2006 on Key Biscayne, on that very bridge,” said Maria Luisa Hoover, a cyclist.
Luisa Hoover has helped organize the Ride of Silence each year.
“We’re asking everyone to be mindful, that we are out there sharing the road, you know, create awareness with the motor vehicles as well as with the cycling community,” said Luisa Hoover.
She says it’s also a call to local leaders to find ways to better protect riders. Meanwhile, 100 of cyclists will be back on the bridge Wednesday for a slow, silent ride.
“We usually say this is like a funeral procession. On Wednesday, we will have a funeral procession and for these persons, may they rest in peace,” said Luisa Hoover.
“I’m just heartbroken, because if you’re a cyclist in Miami it’s not if it’s going to happen, it’s when. You just know it’s going to happen sooner or later,” said Gabriel Larrea, a cyclist.
Officers later reopened all lanes to traffic.
“It happens more often than not, and every time it happens, it’s one time too many,” said Luisa Hoover.
As of late Sunday night, police have not filed any charges, as they continue to investigate.
7News spoke to the families of both victims. They are not ready to talk on camera about their loved ones.
The Ride of Silence will take place Wednesday, and there will be a police escort. If you are interested in joining, the riders are gathering at Crandon Park Marina at 6 p.m., and the ride will start at 7 p.m.
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